Liquor Law Amendment Makes Progress

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK After weeks of anxiety among shebeen owners regarding Government’s response to their plight, the Ministry of Trade and Industry has announced progress in the drafting of new regulations. However, a delay could be experienced with gazetting the new measures due to the complexity of the matter and the need for compliance of the various role players in the industry that supports thousands of people. In a statement, Minister of Trade and Industry Immanuel Ngatjizeko appealed to shebeen owners and local authorities to render their support to make this exercise a success. He assured that his ministry is doing everything to expedite the process. Last Saturday, Trade and Industry held a meeting with all chairpersons (magistrates in the regions) of the Regional Liquor Licensing Committees to map out the road forward on the implementation of Government measures designed to solve the current impasse on shebeens. While the meeting also updated magistrates on how to implement the new measures, it was resolved that another workshop would be held within the next three weeks. This will provide a platform for the formulation of a manual of operation in Omusati Region in order to establish a uniform structure of the Liquor Act implementation nationwide. Omusati is the worst affected region because of the high number of shebeens there. Over the weekend, the president of the Namibia Shebeen Association (NASA) Veripi Kandenge addressed hundreds of NASA members, charging that Government has failed to show political will in the matter. Kandenge informed members of the association that the lack of an urgent solution to the problem shows a lack of political will on the part of Government. NASA members during the meeting threatened that they will after next week organize themselves for yet another anti-no-shebeen campaign. This would be the third mass demonstration since police operations started close to two months ago. Kandenge yesterday reported that his group has so far mobilized half of the required amount of money for a legal opinion. Last Saturday, he said the association was in need of N$9 000 to pay legal experts for an opinion. Another NASA meeting is likely to take place next week where the way forward will be decided. “We would like to see government communicating with us, tell us how far they have gone and where they are facing problems if any. We do not want to be impossible, we want progress,” said Kandenge. According to him, the current communication process from the government’s side is not up to scratch. “Just come to us and tell us: NASA, this is what we are doing so that as leaders we can know what to tell the people on the ground,” he added.